You will find miso soup at any Japanese restaurant.
But what is miso?
Miso is traditional Japanese seasoning fermenting soybeans. In Japan there are 3 different kinds of miso. Red miso, White miso and mixed miso. We use the different kinds of miso for various different dishes. There are also regional dishes with these different types. Miso soup can be made with any of these miso types!
General miso soups use miso, dashi (a soup stock from bonito or kombu seaweed), tofu, seaweed and green onion. Of course, you can add more vegetables to the soup. Seafood is also great in miso soup! In Japan the ingredients that someone uses reflect the food culture of the region. In addition, each family had the own distinct way of making miso soup. I personally like koya-dofu (freeze-dried preserved tofu) and daikon in my miso soup.
A brief history lesson on miso!
Miso was invented in Asuka period Japan (592 – 710). During this period China introduced a food called hishio. Hishio is made from soybeans and salt. In Japan this was later turned into a paste which became miso. However, miso was not used to make miso soup until Heian period (794 – 1185). Miso soup was then popularized in the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333). That is, during this period something called ichiju issai style meals was growing popular. This is a meal composition of usually rice, miso soup, a side dish (okazu), and tsukemono (pickles). This was a common frugal meal that was eaten in Zen temples in Kamakura period. The side dish was usually made with vegetables. However, it now signifies a traditional Japanese ‘well-balanced meal’. In addition, most restaurants in Japan sell miso soup. It is also something that any Japanese person has made at least once.
Do you like miso soup?